Sun
Jul 31 2011 10:30am
Hugo Nominees: 1994

The 1994 Hugo Awards were presented at ConAdian in Winnipeg. The award for best novel was given to Kim Stanley Robinson’s Green Mars, a book I have not read because, as I mentioned in last week’s post, I couldn’t get on with the first book in the trilogy. Red Mars. This is a very unusual winner: I can’t think of another case where the middle book of a trilogy has won the Hugo without the first book also winning. As I haven’t read it, I can’t say how well it stands alone, but Hugo voters aren’t generally very tolerant of books that don’t. Green Mars is of course about terraforming Mars. It’s in print and in the library in French and English. (The library this week is the Grande Bibliotheque, my library of choice.)

There are four other nominees and I’ve read three of them.

Nancy Kress’s Beggars in Spain is an expansion of the novella Beggars in Spain. It’s near future SF about people who do not sleep — a girl who doesn’t sleep and her twin sister who does. It turns out that not sleeping has all kinds of advantages nobody would have imagined, as well as giving people twice as much time in the day. It’s excellent with well drawn characters and thought provoking ideas. Terrific nominee. It’s in print and in the library in English only.

David Brin’s Glory Season is set on a planet where men and women come into sexual heat in different seasons and most people are clones living in large groups of clone-sisters of different ages. It’s like Sargent’s Shore of Women and Tepper’s Gate to Women’s Country in having women living in civilization and men outside, but quite original in having the perspective of somebody who is a rare unique individual in a society of identicals. It’s in print and in the library in French and English.

Greg Bear’s Moving Mars is also a novel of terraforming Mars, and also a sequel to an earlier Hugo nominee, in this case Queen of Angels. The part of this book I remember best is the marvellous end, which overshadows all the earlier more ordinary set-up to the bit where they do, as it says on the cover, move Mars. This is another excellent nominee. It’s in print and in the library in English and French.

I have not read William Gibson’s Virtual Light because of truly disliking Neuromancer. It’s cyberpunk with the tagline “a mind can be a terrible thing to crash.” It’s in print and in the library in English only.

So, four men and one woman, all American, all SF, one cyberpunk, two terraforming Mars, one traditional near future one-invention SF, and one far future planetary. What else might they have chosen?

SFWA’s Nebula Award, being on a different schedule, went to Red Mars. Other eligible non-overlapping nominees were Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason’s Assemblers of Infinity, and Gene Wolfe’s Nightside the Long Sun.

The World Fantasy Award was won by Lewis Shiner’s Glimpses. Other nominees were Drawing Blood, Poppy Z. Brite, The Innkeeper’s Song, Peter S. Beagle, The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, Michael Swanwick, Lord of the Two Lands, Judith Tarr, Skin, Kathe Koja, The Throat, Peter Straub.

It seems to me that The Iron Dragon’s Daughter is a major significant work that should not have been overlooked by the Hugo nominators.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award, in another “huh?” moment after seeming sane for the previous few years, was won by “No Award” with Beggars in Spain second and Moving Mars third. I’d love to know what they were thinking, and also how delighted Kress and Bear were to come second to “No Award.”

The Philip K. Dick Award was a tie between two excellent books, Jack Womack’s Elvissey and John M. Ford’s Growing Up Weightless (post). I think either or both of these would have been excellent Hugo nominees. Other nominees were: Bunch!, David R. Bunch, CrashCourse, Wilhelmina Baird, Icarus Descending, Elizabeth Hand.

The Tiptree was won by Nicola Griffith’s Ammonite. Honor books were: Coelestis, Paul Park, Dancing Jack, Laurie J. Marks, Illicit Passage, Alice Nunn, In the Garden of Dead Cars, Sybil Claiborne, Ring of Swords, Eleanor Arnason (post), The Robber Bride, Margaret Atwood (post).

Green Mars won the Locus SF Award, and it’s interesting that the top five are the five Hugo nominees — that doesn’t often happen. Other nominees not yet mentioned: Hard Landing, Algis Budrys, The Call of Earth, Orson Scott Card,  A Plague of Angels, Sheri S. Tepper, Harvest of Stars, Poul Anderson, Against a Dark Background, Iain M. Banks, The Hammer of God, Arthur C. Clarke, Powers That Be, Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, The Broken God, David Zindell, Brother Termite, Patricia Anthony, Godspeed, Charles Sheffield, Vanishing Point, Michaela Roessner, Chimera, Mary Rosenblum, Red Dust, Paul J. McAuley, The Gripping Hand, Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle, Nightside the Long Sun, Gene Wolfe, Timelike Infinity, Stephen Baxter.

Against a Dark Background is the standout book here, probably Iain M. Banks’s best book, and definitely the kind of groundbreaking book you’d expect to get some Hugo attention. It probably suffered from timing of UK/US publication, and that sucks.

The Beagle won the Locus Award for best Fantasy. Other nominees not yet mentioned:  To Green Angel Tower, Tad Williams, The Thread That Binds the Bones, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon, Lisa Goldstein, The Fires of Heaven, Robert Jordan, Deerskin, Robin McKinley (post), Dog Wizard, Barbara Hambly, The Hollowing, Robert Holdstock, Faery in Shadow, C. J. Cherryh, The Porcelain Dove, Delia Sherman, Winter of the Wolf  R. A. MacAvoy, The Far Kingdoms, Allan Cole & Chris Bunch, The Cygnet and the Firebird, Patricia A. McKillip, The Wizard’s Apprentice, S. P. Somtow, Bones of the Past, Holly Lisle, Dragon Star Book III: Skybowl, Melanie Rawn, The Robin & the Kestrel, Mercedes Lackey.

The Mythopoeic Award was won by Delia Sherman’s The Porcelain Dove.

So, was there anything they all missed? Loads of things this year. Steven Brust’s Agyar (post), Amy Thompson’s Virtual Girl (post), M.J. Engh’s Rainbow Man (post) Isaac Asimov’s Forward the Foundation, Colin Greenland’s Harm’s Way, Diana Wynne Jones’s Hexwood, Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower.

This was a year where there were a lot of notable novels, and where my personal choice of five would be quite different from the Hugo list. On the other hand, the books on the Hugo list have lasted and are mostly still being discussed — and they do give a good snapshot of where the field was in 1994. And it would be easy to make a list of twenty things that were theoretically all good enough for a place on the Hugo ballot.

Other Categories

NOVELLA 

  • “Down in the Bottomlands”, Harry Turtledove (Analog Jan 1993) 
  • “An American Childhood”, Pat Murphy (Asimov’s Apr 1993)
  • “Into the Miranda Rift”, G. David Nordley (Analog Jul 1993) 
  • Mefisto In Onyx, Harlan Ellison (Omni Oct 1993; Mark V. Ziesing) 
  • “The Night We Buried Road Dog”, Jack Cady (F&SF Jan 1993)
  • Wall, Stone, Craft, Walter Jon Williams (F&SF Oct/Nov 1993; Axolotl)

Again, terrific novellas. I think I’d have voted for the Turtledove by a hair over the Williams.

NOVELETTE 

  • “Georgia on My Mind”, Charles Sheffield (Analog Jan 1993) 
  • “Dancing on Air”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Jul 1993) 
  • “Deep Eddy”, Bruce Sterling (Asimov’s Aug 1993) 
  • “The Franchise”, John Kessel (Asimov’s Aug 1993) 
  • “The Shadow Knows”, Terry Bisson (Asimov’s Sep 1993)

And a great set of novelettes as well.

SHORT STORY

  • “Death on the Nile”, Connie Willis (Asimov’s Mar 1993) 
  • “England Underway”, Terry Bisson (Omni Jul 1993) 
  • “The Good Pup”, Bridget McKenna (F&SF Mar 1993) 
  • “Mwalimu in the Squared Circle”, Mike Resnick (Asimov’s Mar 1993)
  • “The Story So Far”, Martha Soukup (Full Spectrum 4)

NONFICTION BOOK 

  • The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, John Clute & Peter Nicholls, eds. (Orbit; St. Martin’s) 
  • The Art of Michael Whelan: Scenes/Visions, Michael Whelan (Bantam Spectra)
  • Once Around the Bloch: An Unauthorized Autobiography, Robert Bloch (Tor) 
  • PITFCS: Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies, Theodore R. Cogswell, ed. (Advent:Publishers) 
  • Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, Scott McCloud (Tundra Publishing)

A good set of books, but how can you compare them rationally when they’re not working in the same space?

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION 

  • Jurassic Park 
  • Addams Family Values 
  • Babylon 5: “The Gathering” 
  • Groundhog Day
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas

Rolls eyes.

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch 
  • Ellen Datlow 
  • Gardner Dozois 
  • Mike Resnick 
  • Stanley Schmidt

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST 

  • Bob Eggleton 
  • Thomas Canty 
  • David A. Cherry 
  • Don Maitz 
  • Michael Whelan

ORIGINAL ARTWORK 

  • Space Fantasy Commemorative Stamp Booklet, Stephen Hickman (US Postal Service) 
  • Keith Parkinson, Cover of Asimov’s Nov 1993 (illustrating “Cold Iron” by Michael Swanwick) 
  • Thomas Canty, Cover of F&SF Oct/Nov 1993 (illustrating “The Little Things” by Bridget McKenna)

SEMI-PROZINE 

  • Science Fiction Chronicle, Andrew Porter
  • Interzone, David Pringle 
  • Locus, Charles N. Brown 
  • The New York Review of Science Fiction, David G. Hartwell, Donald G. Keller, Robert K. J. Killheffer & Gordon Van Gelder 
  • Pulphouse, Dean Wesley Smith & Jonathan E. Bond 
  • Tomorrow Speculative Fiction, Algis Budrys

FANZINE 

  • Mimosa, Dick & Nicki Lynch 
  • Ansible, Dave Langford 
  • File 770, Mike Glyer *
  • Lan’s Lantern, George “Lan” Laskowski 
  • STET, Leah Zeldes Smith & Dick Smith

FAN WRITER 

  • Dave Langford
  • Sharon Farber
  • Mike Glyer 
  • Andy Hooper 
  • Evelyn C. Leeper

FAN ARTIST 

  • Brad W. Foster 
  • Teddy Harvia 
  • Linda Michaels 
  • Peggy Ranson
  • William Rotsler
  • Stu Shiffman

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER (Not a Hugo)

  • Amy Thomson 
  • Holly Lisle 
  • Jack Nimersheim 
  • Carrie Richerson 
  • Elizabeth Willey

A pretty good list. Thomson is a good winner — Virtual Girl is a terrific first novel, and she has gone on to write other excellent books. I just wish she’d write more.

We talked about Richerson and Lisle last week.

I’m not familiar with Nimersheim, but it seems he was nominated on the basis of half a dozen short stories in anthologies. He has gone on to write more short stories, but he’s not had all that much visibility.

Elizabeth Wiley has just published her first fantasy novel A Well Favored Man, which was a lot of fun. She went on to write two sequels and then nothing else that I’ve seen, which is a pity.

Other potential nominees might have been Poppy Z. Brite, Patricia Anthony, Mary Rosenblum, Nicola Griffith, Charles Pellegrino and Sean Stewart.


Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and nine novels, most recently Among Others, and if you liked this post you will like it. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

42 comments
Paul Weimer
1. PrinceJvstin
Elizabeth Wiley has just published her first fantasy novel A Well Favored Man, which was a lot of fun. She went on to write two sequels and then nothing else that I’ve seen, which is a pity.

I wondered what happened to Willey, too. I liked her three books. Very Amber-esque.
carmen webster buxton
2. carmen webster buxton
How interesting hindsight is! Groundhog Day is a true classic, and I really wish it had won.

By the way, if your only reason for not reading Virtual Light is that you didn't like Neuromancer, you might want to give it a try. I consider Neuromancer my least favorite Gibson book because the characters are so thoroughly unlikeable. By the end of the book, I really didn't care what happened to them. I think he wrote it as an experiment, because he was invited to write it, whereas with the other books he was moved to write the stories and maybe even wanted to spend time with more likeable people.
Rich Horton
3. ecbatan
So, four men and one woman, all American, all SF, one cyberpunk, two
terraforming Mars, one traditional near future one-invention SF, and one far future planetary. What else might they have chosen?

Probably we've discussed the Gibson case already, but surely he was a Canadian citizen by this time, and anyway he'd been in Canada since the early '70s. (I'm reading his Paris Review interview now, actually.) (And he was not a draft dodger, by the way.)

I actually find this a rather dispiriting year for fiction. There's a fair amount of nice stuff, but not much, if anything, that blows me away. Against A Dark Background is probably my choice as the most worthy novel to win the Hugo (though I rank it second among Banks's novels, not first). Growing Up Weightless is fine, also Moving Mars, Parable of the Sower, Nightside the Long Sun.

A few significant ones not mentioned:
Bradley Denton's Blackburn, which is not really SF/Fantasy to my mind (though parts appeared in F&SF), but it's very good, very involving, very dark
Diana Wynne Jones's Hexwood and The Crown of Dalemark
Matt Ruff's Sewer, Gas & Electric (which probably would have made my ideal nominee list)
Samuel R. Delany's They Fly at Ciron (which to be honest I haven't read, but which I mention because it fits an interesting (to me) short list: novels expanded from collaborative short stories that were published as by only one of the original authors. Others are Poul Anderson's Twilight World (expanded from his first story "Tomorrow's Children", with F. N. Waldrop) and James Blish's VOR (expanded from "The Weakness of RVOG" with Damon Knight).

Finally, from the "Mainstream":
Jeff Noon's Vurt
Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride (perhaps not strictly speaking genre but incorporating some genre elements)
Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams

--
Rich Horton
Rich Horton
4. ecbatan
And the short fiction.

Again, the Hugo nominees are good to excellent, but somehow don't inspire me. Others worth mentioning:
"Sister Alice", by Robert Reed
"The Beauty Addict", by Ray Aldridge
"The Last Castle of Christmas", by Alexander Jablokov
"Walt and Emily", by Paul di Filippo

In novelette, Sheffield's winner is a good story, but I think I'd have voted for (perhaps DID vote for) Sterling's "Deep Eddy". Also worth a look:
"Cush", by Neal Barrett, Jr.
"Chaff", by Greg Egan
"The Other Magpie", by R. Garcia y Roberson
"A History of the Antipodes", by Philip C. Jennings (I quite liked Jennings' work, but he never quite seemed to gain traction, and he's published very little in the past decade or so -- this story appeared in the very attractive large slick version of Amazing that appeared for a while in the '90s -- it looked nice, but I think it got less notice than other magazines)

In short story, I might have given Soukup the award. But other nominees might have come from this list:
"The Extra", by Greg Egan
"From the Corner of My Eye", by Michael F. Flynn
"From Our Point of View, We Had Moved to the Left", by William Shunn
"Exogamy", by John Crowley

And finally, the incomparable Avram Davidson died in 1993. He published three very fine stories this year, one in each length category, all worth mentioning:
Novella: "A Far Countrie"
Novelette: "The Spook Box of Theobald Delafont de Brooks"
Short Story: "Sea-Scene; or, Vergil and the Ox-Thrall"

--
Rich Horton
William Frank
5. scifantasy
This may be a good place to add that the voting for this year's Hugo awards closes tonight, so if you're eligible, and you haven't voted, go vote!
carmen webster buxton
6. CarlosSkullsplitter
Kim Stanley Robinson did something remarkable this year: he wrote a Hugo-winning book I can't remember any details. I'm not like that woman in California who can remember every single day of her life -- e.g. playing on the swings on the set of The Waltons (no relation I think) -- but I do retain a horseload of citations from the good, the bad, the indifferent. This one, nothing.

The rest definitely fall into the indifferent category. You could watch the energies of cyberpunk being neutralized as the old guard actively tried to avoid its taint. (Virtual Light is only called cyberpunk because Gibson wrote it. It's a near-future thriller informed by architectural theory. More Elmore Leonard than any SF influence, but Leonard and Gibson aren't a great fit.) This is probably why Swanwick's magnificent Iron Dragon’s Daughter was disdained by the fan voters -- although it was a New York Times notable book of the year -- and I suspect it has something to do with it overlooking Banks' Against a Dark Background. Even as science fiction was becoming more popular in other media, and the tropes and topoi of science fiction were flowing into the mainstream, it does feel like this period marks the beginning of the decline from the highwater mark of science fiction derived from the magazine tradition.

Goodness knows, the winners of the novella and novellete categories don't help this perception. Turtledove's "Down in the Bottomlands" is not as unmemorable as Green Mars, but it's close. Sheffield's "Georgia on My Mind" ends with pure fan pander, as teams of science fiction writers mentioned by name race to discover the MacGuffin.

I have some theories about this. Because genre opportunities were widening, people with those imaginative tendencies drifted into other forms: comics -- this was a boom period for comics -- movies, television, and animation. The late David Foster Wallace was writing his massive near-future satirical opus Infinite Jest during this period: it would become a best-seller in 1996. There's no tendency in it that wouldn't be immediately familiar to the great SF satirists of the 1950s and 1960s. But it's a classic of the mainstream, not the genre.

Also, science fiction drew a lot of its early energies from writers who wanted to be "bards of the sciences": writers like Poul Anderson, who had a physics degree. People who might otherwise have written for (or read) the genre were now working in hot new demanding information technology jobs -- and not even their bard Neal Stephenson could quite reinvigorate the genre once he found his full voice. Unlike Gibson, Stephenson has no successful followers.

Still, it's striking how the best books of the year are deep in the list of the also-rans.
Neville Park
7. nevillepark
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Parable of the Sower didn't even get nominated? Damn.

Nightside the Long Sun is the start of another amazing tetralogy where none of the books really stand alone, more's the pity.
Mikey Bennett
8. EvilMonkey
I read Green Mars before I knew that Red Mars existed. I gotta say it was still one of my favorite books even though the beginning is a little confusing. To this day I've only read Red Mars 2wice, but Green and Blue Mars I've read multiple times. Not that I think Red Mars is a bad book; IMO it isn't horrible, just not as good as its followers. I'd really recomend reading Green Mars.
Rich Horton
9. ecbatan
What I remember from Green Mars is the constitutional convention. But little else. It's the drabbest of the RGB Mars books, a classic "middle book". (Red Mars is the best of that series (or, well, the novella "Green Mars", set in a beta version of that Mars, is KSR's best Mars story), and Blue Mars is a bit of a mess but more interesting.)

Carlos, I think SF was moving into a period of a lot of looking backward at the genre. A lot of regret for the lost future promised in '50s SF. Some of these stories end up being brilliant, mind you (MacLeod's "New Light on the Drake Equation"), but they are still informed by that regret. (In a way, Against a Dark Background plays with that feeling.)

I think The Iron Dragon's Daughter was too dark for much of the SF community, at that time (same with Swanwick's later Jack Faust).

So, yes, much of 1993's SF seems to me dispiriting -- hence my earlier comment. And it may well be because of a flagging of energy related to a feeling that the old SF "project" was permanently a dead letter.

--
Rich Horton
carmen webster buxton
10. wingracer
Man, where was I this year? The only novel mentioned in the article that I have read is the Card.

Now that I think about it, this was a pretty dark year for me. I was living day to day, broke, working 60 hours a week, basically on my own for the first time and my father passed away this year so I guess I just didn't have the time or money to devote to reading. Guess I will have to go back and read a few of these (though NOT the KSR).
Michal Jakuszewski
11. Lfex
This year novel ballot seems mixed to me. I liked three novels in it - Brin, Kress and Bear (but I really don't remember very much of the last), and strongly disliked Robinso and Gibson. Among the nominees I must say Glory Season was my favorite. True, it was slow, but it also had very good worldbuilding and some interesting ideas. I also liked two first volumes of his second uplift trilogy Brightness Reef and Infinity's Shore, for the same reasons. I don't count Heaven's Reach, of which the less is said, the better. Glory Season is also the only nominee which would probably make my ballot if I was nominating back then.

My favorite novel of the year would probably be The Innkeeper's Song - truly wonderful Peter Beagle novel - or immensely important The Iron Dragon's Daughter. Looking backward, it is hard to believe it didn't get nominated. I agree Against a Dark Background should be there. BTW, ecbatan, I think this was far darker novel than The Iron Dragon's Daughter, easily the darkest Banks book, IMHO. I also liked The Broken God by David Zindeel, first volume of his trilogy sequel to Neverness, inferior, but still enjoyable. Unfortunately, from this point it swiftly went down. Parable of the Sower also would make a good nominee.

I honestly don't remember very much about any of the short fiction nominees. I think I read some of them, but otherwise they draw a blank.
David Levinson
12. DemetriosX
It's not a great novel list, really. Robinson and Kress stand out, while I feel the Brin falls short of what it was aiming for. Green Mars sort of works as a standalone. It certainly helps to know who these people are and what motivates them from the first book, but it isn't essential.

Oddly, I've never cared for "Down in the Bottomlands" all that much. Can't say why, I usually like Turtledove. I'd probably have voted for "The Night We Buried Road Dog". Of the rest of the short fiction, the only two titles that really stir any memories are "Death on the Nile" (which is a worthy winner) and "Mwalimu in the Squared Circle" (which is another story by an author I usually like not working for me).

It's interesting the way everyone here is talking about the changes SF seemed to be undergoing. I drifted away from the genre somewhat in this period, though I maintained my subscritptions to Asimov's and F&SF. I'd always put that down to a rather tumultuous period in my life, being largely broke, interested in a girl whose mother owned a mystery bookstore and so spending my available cash there, and just generally my own situation. Maybe SF was no longer filling some need the way it had earlier. I certainly like stuff from this era when I read it now.

On the Dramatic Presentation, I think I'd have gone for no award. Jurassic Park was certainly impressive technically, but that's about all. The B5 pilot showed promise, but the whole concept really didn't start being worth it until mid-way through the second season. Groundhog Day is a good movie, but I'm not sure it even qualifies as fanatasy. I see it more as a sort of magical realism.

One thing I've noticed about this category is a tendency to nominate films which are sfnal in their production, while not necessarily being so in their content. JP is SF in both, but the dinosaurs were so incredible, they overwhelmed everything else. A better example of what I mean is probably the nomination of Toy Story a couple of years later. It's just barely a fantasy, but the overwhelming SFness of a 100% CGI-animated film feels like what got it onto the list.
René Walling
13. cybernetic_nomad
Groundhog Day is definitively part of the genre.

Good films that got ignored: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (probably the best Batman film that came out that decade) and The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (an amazingly weird film by the Bolex Brothers)
carmen webster buxton
14. James Davis Nicoll
The rather disappointing sequel to Mote in God's Eye, The Gripping Hand, came out in 1993 and would have been eligible; I am happy to see it avoided getting enough nostalgia votes to appear on the nominee list. Actually, not sure how it placed overall; these days it would be trivial to look at the Hugo raw data to see if anyone voted for it for a nomination (which I'd imagine someone must have) but 1993 was a less netty era.

I mention it mainly so I can put in a reference to JR Pournelle's Outies, which people may have overlooked. In many cases "sequel to a classic written decades after the original, written by the child of the author" is a warning sign but in the specific case of Outies JR Pournelle has done what Niven and JEP failed to do, write an interesting and worthy sequel to the original. I strongly recommend people take a look at it.
Peter Stone
15. Peter1742
This is a very unusual winner: I can’t think of another case where the
middle book of a trilogy has won the Hugo without the first book also
winning.

Rowling won with the middle book of a septology. Does that count?
carmen webster buxton
16. Gardner Dozois
THE IRON DRAGON'S DAUGHTER should have been on the Hugo ballot, and certainly should have won the World Fantasy Award, being a game-changer for a great deal of the fantasy that followed it, and highly influential. THE INNKEEPER'S SONG is also a good fantasy. BEGGARS IN SPAIN would have made a good Hugo winner, and I can't help but wonder if it didn't win because the original novella, "Beggars in Spain," already had. RING OF SWORDS, HARD LANDING, and the Banks probably should have been on the ballot.

VIRTUAL LIGHT isn't cyberpunk; in fact, practically nothing that Gibson wrote after the original NEUROMANCER trilogy could realistically be called cyberpunk. They're near-future (or even present-day) technothrillers. You might still not like them, of course, but you shouldn't not like them because they're cyberpunk, because they're not.

In novella, I might have gone for "Wall, Stone, Craft," although it's Alternate History rather than SF per se; Williams has written several extremely good novellas in his career, and this is one of them. "Sister Alice" also should have been on the ballot, and is SF, one of the best far-future stories of its decade, and is the other story I'd have been tempted to vote for. "A Far Countrie" is late Davidson, and not as strong as earlier Jack Limekiller stories, but, hey, in my opinion, even weak Davidson is better than no Davidson at all. R. Garcia y Robertson's "Down the River" is a lot of fun.

Novelette is the strongest category this year, although not all of the strong stories reached the ballot. I'd have preferred "Dancing on Air" or "Deep Eddy," both very strong stories, as the winner (think I would slightly favor "Dancing on Air"), and my actual favorite, Ian R. MacLeod's "Papa," didn't make the ballot at all. Greg Egan's "Chaff" is another excellent story. Steven Utley's "There and Then" is one of the best of his Silurian Tales, and Neal Barrett, Jr.'s "Cush" is one of the weirder stories ever to appear in an SF magazine. Brian Aldiss's "Friendship Bridge" is also good.

The short story ballot is weak; there was better stuff elsewhere that didn't make it on. I'd have given it to Robert Reed's "Guest of Honor," one of the first, along with "Sister Alice," of the really good Robert Reed stories. Greg Egan's "The Extra" is also strong, as is Stephen Baxter's "Lieserl" and Geoffrey A. Landis's "Beneath the Stars of Winter."

It's interesting to notice three writers this year producing good stuff by working against the sort of thing they're known for. Ian McDonald's "Brody Loved the Masai Woman" is a vampire story, Steven Utley's "The Country Doctor" is one of his rare horror stories, and Eleanor Arnason's "The Hound of Merlin" is an Arthurian fantasy. Also interesting to notice that Jonathan Lethem was writing a lot of SF for ASIMOV'S and elsewhere in those days.

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION is certainly the most important non-fiction book of the year, and one of the reference books that has had the greatest and longest-lasting influence on the field; I still frequently consult it.

GROUNDHOG DAY is certainly fantasy, even if the supernatural mechanism responsible for the situation is never identified, and TOYS is fantasy too (hey! Talking toys! What more do you want?). THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS is also legitimate fantasy, although a bit on the surrealistic side. JURRASIC PARK is legitimate science fiction, although perhaps not particularly GOOD science fiction. I enjoyed all of these three movies (didn't like the other two finalists), and have rewatched them all on occasion, although I'd have been happier to see a stronger SF film win. On balance, I guess I'd have to give it to JURRASIC PARK--the science may be a bit silly but at least they tried to come up with a scientific rationale, and yes, the dinosaurs were wonderful, particularly for the state of the art at the time.

I think the Campbell probably should have gone to Mary Rosenblum, who was producing a flood of good short work at the time. She's still producing stuff, but Patricia Anthony, who was also prolific at short lengths at the time, has, sadly, completely disappeared.

Not germane to anything, I'll mention that the cover of my Best of the Year that year, the Eleventh Annual Collection, "Pistachio Crater," by Kim Poor (who alas isn't painting anymore) was one of my favorite covers for the entire run of the Year's Best to date.
Sherri Nichols
17. snichols
I had shifted almost wholly into mystery reading by this time, so I haven't read any of the novel nominees. I have since read The Parable of the Sower, and think that was as good as or better than many a Hugo winner I've read. The only one of the Hugo nominees that is even on my to-read list is the KSR Mars trilogy, though my husband is also suggesting Beggars in Spain.

I think Octavia Butler was under-recognized, but I doubt I'm alone in thinking that.
carmen webster buxton
18. CarlosSkullsplitter
9: Rich, that's probably a good chunk of it. We can watch SF become nostalgic, elegiac, and even morbid as it contemplates its past -- but it has to be the right sort of doomy morbid. Swanwick and Banks have an unfeelgood quality about them, even though Swanwick ends on an uplifting note (though you have to work for it) and Banks is basically a reversed Mote in God's Eye.

14: Speaking of, I have to strongly second James' recommendation for J.R. Pournelle's Outies. Completely unexpected.
carmen webster buxton
19. CarlosSkullsplitter
Finally, not to be the guy who brings up bad behavior by SF authors all the time -- but why is there so much of it? -- but there was a minor controversy around Glory Season in the awards as well. A Dutch SF journalist asked Brin about Glory Season as an example of SF novels of gender conflict. Brin replied: "As I say in my afterword, it is a topic in which men are often denied to have the same wisdom or insight as female authors. Fortunately, only a few silly people have said that about Glory Season... (although those few did make certain the book was not considered for the James Tiptree Award for gender bending SF)" (source here). I know when I think of wisdom or insight I think of David Brin.

Anyhow, Glory Season did in fact make the Tiptree long list, as can be seen here. Ursula K. LeGuin herself reviewed it for the Tiptree: "Though the book is unnecessarily long, the storyline is plausible and fast-moving, with well-imagined details; the social institutions of Stratos are carefully worked out; it is in the characters and the language that the book fails... This world of women is totally male-centered. Despite his excellent apparatus of clones and clans and sexual seasons, Brin hasn’t really got us any farther than about 1955. It is too bad, because the book has a likable freshness and optimism."

Which is pretty much on the money.

(Incidentally, going through the comments on the long lists of Tiptree nominees is an excellent way to expand one's future reading list.)
carmen webster buxton
20. Petar Belic
"Against a Dark Background is the standout book here, probably Iain M. Banks’s best book." - I would disagree with this, Banks has written plenty of other novels that are better. This probably speaks for his quality though!
I thought Glory Season was interesting, and Brin clearly extending his range. Interesting to read LeGuin commenting on it.
I enjoyed Green Mars, and like others here I had not read Red Mars first. But after reading its sequel, and KSR's Antarctica - where they also ended with a constitutional convention - I felt I had read everything I needed to for KSR.
I enjoyed Virtual Light, and while some of the tech is 'still' just around the corner, it seemed a little to close to now to be SF. It was a lot of fun though. I haven't read it for a long time, so I suspect it may have dated now, being set so close to 'now', back then. I guess you like Gibson or you don't. I wish he'd write some more SF though.
I'd totally forgotten Jack Womack’s Elvissey. As I remember though, it was a novel that promised a lot more than it delivered. Or maybe I was just too young when I read it...
carmen webster buxton
21. Narmitaj
@ 3 ecbatan - re Gibson/interviews/Canada/Vietnam

Recently the BBC made downloadable several hundred archive episodes of its long-running (since 1942) radio interview show "Desert Island Discs", where a celebrity picks eight records (and a book and a luxury) to take to a desert island, and discusses the tracks and their lives. In case you don't know, William Gibson was on in 1999 and I happened to hear it last week; you might be interested in it. I don't know if this does or doesn't refer to "draft-dodging" as perhaps he wasn't formally drafted, but anyway:

Musician: "...I'll rock the cradle when you're gone "
Sue Lawley: "Dock Boggs singing Sugar Baby from the Smithsonian Folkways Collection. So William Gibson, you were parentless by the age of 19 because your mother died then, also very suddenly. It was 1967: Vietnam beckoned. What did you do?"
William Gibson: "I fled immediately to Canada".

From about 16:25 on the iPlayer. I don't know if the BBC iPlayer recording plays worldwide, but here's the link where you can press the Listen Now button to get it if it does:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/desert-island-discs/castaway/3ade8915

If not, you can just look at his record selection!
Rich Horton
22. ecbatan
In the Paris Review interview (from the current issue, Summer 2011, #197) Gibson says: "I never did get drafted, but I went off to Canada on a kind of exploratory journey to figure out what I might do if I ever was drafted ...", and also, "I think it would have depended on the day I got the draft notice. I suspect I would have been equally capable of saying, Fuck it, I'm going to Vietnam.", and also "I couldn't hang out with the guys who'd been drafted. ... I didn't belong. I hadn't made their decision."

Certainly the prospect of Vietnam had some influence on Gibson's move to Canada. But he clearly was NOT a draft dodger -- he didn't have to be. And he is ambiguous as to whether he'd have been one if it came up. His move happened very shortly after his mother died -- his father had died several years earlier -- it's clear that his family situation affected him profoundly -- as it would have anyone.

By the way, besides the Gibson interview, there's an interview with Samuel R. Delany in this issue of the Paris Review, as well as a story by Jonathan Lethem. Definitely of interest to genre readers.

--
Rich Horton
Elizabeth Coleman
23. elizabethcoleman
Huh. I know Amy Thomson, and I never knew she won the Campbell. That makes this the second time this series has informed me of the accomplishments of my friends, and that is indeed one of the reasons I love this series, because it educates me on the history of my community.
carmen webster buxton
24. Ofostlic
Glad to see other people approved of Outies.

Sean Stewart would have been a great Campbell award winner, but was he eligible? Passion Play was published in Canada in 1992. I've always liked this book for being a 'best case' theocracy. Writers often assume that right-wing religious politicians are hypocrites, but here the private eye and the cynical cop can agree that the govt wouldn't have risked their immortal souls by organizing the murder of an inconvenient celebrity.
carmen webster buxton
25. Scotoma
While I agree that none of the books in 1993 really blew me away, apart from Swanwick's Iron Dragon, I liked a few.

Paul McAuley's Red Dust, which is actually one of the few books by him I liked without reservations, a Mars book that got lost in the flood of Mars-themed books that came out at that time. It's not exactly better than the others, just different.

And I have a soft spot for Tony Daniel's really quirky and weird Warpath, with is literally about Native Americans travelling in canoes through space.

There's Brother Termite by Patricia Anthony, which is highly readable, but about which I'm always unsure whether I actually like it or not. Some days I do, other not so much.

There's also Stephen Baxter's Ring, a direct sequel to Timelike Infinity and part of his big Xeelee sequence. It's not as dazzling or as tightly plotted as Timelike Infinity was, but despite many flaws still an interesting read.

On the fantasy side, besides Swanwick's book, there's Paul Kearney's A Different Kingdom, which is also a quieter book, but one that still managed to pack quite a punch for me.

So, all in all, not a lost year for me.
Jo Walton
26. bluejo
I think perhaps the 1994 award lists look weaker coming after the incredible 1993 ones.
Marcus W
27. toryx
Amy Thomson is the first published science fiction author I'd ever met at the first con I ever attended. She was remarkably welcoming and introduced me to my second and third novelists, as well as David Hartwell.

I bought The Color of Distance while at the Con, had her sign it and when I read it was completely blown away. I'd been on a fantasy kick at the time and she brought me right back to Science Fiction in a big way. I really wish she wrote more too.
Darren James
28. b8amack
Red Mars is the only good one in the series, I think. I hate to say that, because I loved Red so much, I really tried to like the other ones. True, though.
Rich Horton
29. ecbatan
Ofostlic@24-- Yes, Stewart was eligible. Great catch! He should have been nominated, would have been a good winner (not that Thompson wasn't a good winner too). It's hard to keep track of eligible Campbell nominees -- at least until the late '90s, when Jim Van Pelt started his Campbell-eligible site (now moved to Writertopia).

Of course, with Stewart and Gibson in the same conversation, we could start the old "who's Canadian?" thread -- which takes in such Canadian/Americans (each in different ways), as Stewart and Gibson, plus Robert Charles Wilson, Spider Robinson, even John Clute and Geoff Ryman (both of whom were born in Canada, moved to the US, then to the UK). And from the Golden Age (or right after) Judith Merril and A. E. Van Vogt.

Not to mention UK/Canadians like our hostess!
carmen webster buxton
30. CarlosSkullsplitter
26: considering I didn't think any of the nominees in 1993 were without serious problems, I doubt that's the case for everyone. A continuation of a trend -- and we're not even to the years of Sawyer and Wilson yet.
carmen webster buxton
31. James Davis Nicoll
It's odd how the set of Canadian SF writers seems to have such a high percentage of people who became Canadian through an act of will rather than e.g. their parents' inability to master birth control. And even the native-born ones generally seem to turn out to have a close connection to another nation (Sawyer, for example, was born here but is a dual Canadian/US citizen, something a certain concom was unaware of).

Obligatory disclaimer: this is not "Oh, they're from away - how awful". I am in favour of ruthlessly harvesting the protocanadians trapped in other nations (If only because MegaCity Toronto needs another four or five hundred million people to complete and we're not producing fast enough locally).. I just wonder what it is about growing up here that seems to discourage writing F&SF. Maybe the pull of writing gloomy novels about coming of age in declining Albertan Ukrainian-Canadian communities is just too strong if you've grown up listening to CBC.....
Soon Lee
32. SoonLee
Not a lot of Hugo love for Iain M. Banks is there? I suspect Jo's right about publication timing & the relative availability to readers who might be inclined to nominate. For me, it (the internet) has certainly made a huge difference especially in recent years; access to the latest news & nominated shorter works makes it far more easy to stay up to date. Before, the nominees & winners only became apparent a year or two later when those facts appeared on cover blurbs of MMPB versions.

The early 90s was when I came back into reading SF much more, so these nominees are more familiar to me.

Carlos @6: I liked that "Georgia on my mind" referred to SF writers by name. I like the idea that SF could happen to "us", not just to some characters in stories.
Kay Schumann
33. TheEndless
Just a teeensy bit of smartassing:
Wasn't Brin's 'Startide Rising' also a middle book of a trilogy?
carmen webster buxton
34. CarlosSkullsplitter
32: well, yeah, that's pretty much fan pander by definition. I once came across a story in a Waldenbooks newsletter written by a young science fiction reader who discovered his walls of books protected him -- I am almost positive it was a him -- and other science fiction readers from the radiation after a nuclear war. They were special, you see, because they read science fiction, and now they were rewarded (by being the sole survivors in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but details details).

Sheffield created the same response. It could happen to you, not just to some character in a story. And why? because you're special: you read SF and therefore you are lateral-minded enough to solve this historical mystery. Or at least Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle are. And hey, they're part of the tribe!

I have to say, it worked exactly as Sheffield intended. And he won the Hugo with it.

(In the nature of full disclosure, I should state that I have been Tuckerized myself, by Lois McMaster Bujold in The Hallowed Hunt. But I can't imagine this increased the book's popularity.)
Soon Lee
35. SoonLee
(In the nature of full disclosure, I should state that I have been Tuckerized myself, by Lois McMaster Bujold in The Hallowed Hunt. But I can't imagine this increased the book's popularity.)

It can't have hurt, surely.
Jo Walton
36. bluejo
SoonLee: Yes, we didn't fling the book to the floor screaming "That's Carlos, and I demand my money back!"

James: I suspect you of picking your examples carefully, because there's also Karl Schroeder. And James Alan Gardner. And Candas Jane Dorsey. And Cory Doctorow... Though I do admit to an inability to remember that Gibson counts as Canadian.
Rich Horton
37. ecbatan
Doctorow, at least, is another Canadian native who later lived for at least a while in the US. (I don't remember where he is now -- didn't he move to Europe?)

As for Sawyer, US citizen or not, his writing doesn't show much knowledge of the US ...
carmen webster buxton
38. Gardner Dozois
Actually, Soon, I did EXACTLY that! (Just kidding. )
carmen webster buxton
39. James Davis Nicoll
But looking for the statments made about the US that are misleading or wrong is part of the charm of Saywer books!
Rich Horton
40. ecbatan
Along with looking for the scientific howlers ... probably there are mistakes about Canada too, I just don't recognize them.
john mullen
41. johntheirishmongol
I have been moving this weekend, which is why I didn't get to this sooner, but in this case I still don't have much to say about the novels. I didn't read any of the nominees, mostly because the idea of Mars stories doesn't really appeal to me, and I can't read Gibson either.

Of the movies, there were 2 good ones in Jurassic Park and Groundhog Day. I think everyone forgets how totally scary raptors were when the movie first came out. Made for a very suspenseful story, if not perfect science. Groundhog Day is beautifully written and wonderfully acted and holds up extremely well, particularly because it doesn't explain itself.
carmen webster buxton
42. Alan Heuer
Here is how I voted in 1994:

Best Novel
1. Green Mars Kim Stanley Robinson
2. Virtual Light William Gibson
3. Moving Mars Greg Bear
4. Glory Season David Brin
5. Beggars in Spain Nancy Kress

Best Novella
1. "Wall, Stone, Craft" Walter Jon Williams
2. "An American Childhood" Pat Murphy
3. "The Night We Buried Road Dog" Jack Cady
4. "Mephisto in Onyx" Harlan Ellison
5. "Down in the Bottomlands" Harry Turtledove
6. "Into the Miranda Rift" G. David Nordley

Best Novelette
1. "Deep Eddy" Bruce Sterling
2. "Georgia on My Mind" Charles Sheffield
3. "Dancing on Air" Nancy Kress
4. "The Shadow Knows" Terry Bisson
5. "The Franchise" John Kessel

Best Short Story
1. "Mwalimu in the Squared Circle" Mike Resnick
2. "The Good Pup" Bridget McKenna
3. "England Underway" Terry Bisson
4. "The Story So Far" Martha Soukup
5. "Death on the Nile" Connie Willis

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